The investigation into the mysterious death of a Georgia teen found rolled in a gym mat two years ago received new life when federal marshals seized emails from the sheriff’s office this week, CNN reports.
Kendrick Johnson was found dead in a Valdosta high school gym in January 2013, a death Lowndes County sheriff’s investigators ruled an accident. While reaching for a shoe at the center of a rolled up gym mat, Johnson got stuck and died of “positional asphyxia,” investigators initially said.
But Johnson’s family believed otherwise, commissioning a second autopsy that showed the teen died of “unexplained, apparent nonaccidental blunt force trauma.” On Tuesday and Wednesday, more than two years after the high school basketball player’s death, U.S. Marshals presented a warrant to Lowndes County IT offices to seize emails and phone records related to the teenager’s death.
At this point, the contents of the emails and records are unclear.
Johnson’s parents haven’t given up the fight to determine what happened to their son on that January day two years ago. Earlier this year, the parents filed a $100 million lawsuit that accuses two former schoolmates, who are brothers, and their father, who is a local FBI agent, of wrongful death, CNN reports.
Ron Hosko of the Law Enforcement Legal Defense Fund, which also represents the family, said computers, thumb drives and cell phones were seized.
“The case is built solely on suspicion, innuendo and rumor, not evidence,” attorney Brice Ladson, who represents the same family, told WCTV, noting that no one has been indicted in the federal grand jury investigation and that there’s no evidence that anyone from the family is involved.
Nine months after Johnson’s death, the Justice Department launched a federal investigation, but very few details about their findings have been released to the public.